Friday, June 01, 2007

Law and Disorder: Mumia, Iraq, political prisoners

I wish it were Friday! It's already Saturday. I'm in a hurry to get some sleep. So let's move quick. Come on, you can keep up! :D Finally I get to Law and Disorder. But first :D Seriously, first this from C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


In other news, Saturday from 10:00 am until noon (PST), KPFA will broadcast a Pacifica Radio and Free Speech Radio News special hosted by Sonali Kolhatkar (host of KPFK's Uprising) and Dalia Hashad (attorney, the USA program director for Amnesty International and one of the co-hosts of WBAI's Law and Disorder). The special will address the new Senate bill on immigration which is due to be voted on shortly and "present challenging interviews with lawmakers, and look at global dynamics that lead to migration and Europe's own crackdown on immigration."

Since that's a Dalia item and since it airs much later today, I wanted to be sure everyone saw that. Okay, now I'm going to talk about Law and Disorder and I'm really tired so I really should have grabbed that yesterday but I really did (still do) think the Guantanmo prisoners was too important to wait on that.

First segment had Robert R. Bryan who is the lead attorney for Mumia Abu-Jamal. He talked about a lot of things including what he argued to the judge the "systematic removal" of African-Americans from cases historically in that region and asked the judges "Are we to believe" that was an exception for some reason in Mumia's case. Bryan said that what happens with the verdict is that the verdict means that either Mumia moves along towards an execution or they get a new hearing about the death penalty.

Heidi Boghosian (who host along with Dalia and Michael Smith and Michael Ratner) conducted this interview and she always does a really good job.

In the trial that the hearing's about one issue is that the prosecutor told the jury that it was better to err on the side of guilty. That's not how it works in the US where you are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. But the prosecutor said that if you make a mistake, no big deal, he gets appeals but if you set him free we don't get another crack at him.

She would stop throughout to clarify stuff, like getting an explanation for what Mumia does in helping others in prison (he helps them with filings and stuff like that).

I was glad Heidi did the interview because I could get through it. That's not an insult to the Michaels or Dalia's. They do great work too. But Heidi does this thing where she keeps it a conversation. That was important because this guy gets on my nerves. He did on Democracy Now! too. Amy Goodman's good but I wanted to scream during that interview. Dalia and the Michaels are good too. But Heidi's got this style that I don't know how to define but it takes the edge off some guests. And she made the guy bearable despite all of his "I" stuff. Example, she brings up a good article on the case and he's off talking about how that reporter called him and "I could have" just blown her up and "I" this and "I" that. He must be a great attorney but he's a big "I" and "me" hog when he's talking. That's the way I feel. I felt that way watching on Democracy Now! too. Heidi made it bearable and I don't think anyone else could. I think it's the way she asks questions. It's just her on air style. The Michaels? I think they would have been like me and tried to make a joke or cut him off. I'm not sure how Dalia would handle it. Amy Goodman just stay focused on the questions and it played like he was given enough room to sink or swim and he let his ego sink him.


Last week, Heidi reported on the protests over Luis Posada Carriles and the second segment was about how protests took place all over the world and offered a speech by Father Luis Barrios. He gave a really strong speech. (I'm not just saying that I because I'm Catholic! :D)
"George Bush is a terrorist. That's the only reason he's protecting Luis Posada Carriles." If you've forgotten Posada Carriles is the guy who used to work for the CIA back when they were really going after Castro. (I say "really going after" because I have no reason to believe they ever stopped.) Then he took his terrorism to other areas including a bombing of an airplane that killed over 70 people including Cuba's Olympic fencing team. He's wanted on charges in Cuba and Venezuela but when the US had him in custody, they decided to let him go because the administration doesn't really care about terrorism.

The third segment and the fourth segment were from the Left Forum this year. I really am enjoying their coverage of this. There's a forum coming up that's either the Social or the Socialist. C.I.'s going with Socialist because that's how ISR and others are billing it. My grandfather (who is a socialist) is so happy about that. He goes to me, "Mikey, ask C.I. if anyone's complained in e-mails?" A few had and C.I.'s not changing it to "Social." I told my grandfather that and that made him real happy. Made me happy he was happy and it makes me happy too because socialism isn't a dirty word. Now some may not see as a socialist forum and that's their business. But C.I. doesn't put "Bernie Sanders - Independent" up at The Common Ills. Next fall, I'm taking a class where I'll get to study socialism and other political ideologies. My grandfather's really excited about that and said he wants to study it with me.

But anyway, I don't know how much coverage that will get. The Left Forum didn't seem to get much coverage. I've got some recordings of it from C.I. But it's more like a sampler. (Not complaining, I loved listening.) But I don't think I saw it anywhere or heard about it anywhere. So I'm really glad that Law and Disorder keeps covering this. There's a lot of important stuff from that and with them broadcasting it, it gives it a whole new life. So the show broadcast J. Soffiyah Elijah's speech for this one and it was about political prisoners and prisons. COINTEL-PRO was part of what she talked about. J. Edgar Hoover instituted it as head of the FBI to go after people and he would use that to go after the new left and civil rights and went after MLK and the Black Panthers and a lot more. She talked about how people found out about COINTEL-PRO, activists broke into a Penn. FBI office, found the documents and released them. She talked about how the Church Committee, chaired by Frank Church, found that COINTEL-PRO was illegal and about how, after 9-11, all these activities suddenly came back and were called "legal" under Homeland Security and the Patriot Act. She talked about the wrongful convictions of Black Panthers and the assassinations of Black Panthers. She talked about how recently Black Panthers were arrested for a 1971 murder, conspiracy and how the 'evidence' is based on torture. Reuben Scott, Harold Taylor and John Bowman were tortured in 1973 over a 5 day period in New Orleans, where the police would torture them, then FBI would come in and question them and if they didn't like the answers, the FBI would step outside and send the police back in to torture some more over and over. Confessions under torture aren't supposed to be taken seriously because people will say anything to stop the torture. And torture is against the law. Two of the torturers are the ones now pushing this case.

We are not supposed to torture in the US and nothing under torture should be allowed as evidence in any US court. We're supposedly 'advanced'. The trial needs to spin around and charge the torturers and put them behind bars.

I really enjoyed this speech a lot. It reminded me of a point we made Sunday in "Chrissy Explains It All (finally)" about The Nation's slam piece on SDS:

We'd further suggest that his ignorance is aided by a magazine that refused to offer historical examples of wire tapping and spying on American citizens when The New York Times revealed that the Bully Boy was doing just that. Alone among big indy media was Democracy Now! which probed, and gave context to, an earlier time when that was the norm. A lot is expected of Amy Goodman and that may be because of the fact that, time and again, she has delivered.
The Nation not only elected to sit it out they elected to praise Mark Felt when Bob Woodward identified him as the sole source known as Deep Throat (remember that when Woody needs to sell more books and suddenly 'remembers' other sources). William Greider's "Lies, Guts & Deep Throat" was such a valentine ("heroic") to the man that Greider couldn't even note that the abuses Felt allegedly informed Woodward of were the sort of abuses Felt regularly oversaw (when not attempting to swipe the panties of Jennifer Dohrn). Only after the love-in for Felt had been repeatedly staged could Dan Berger be allowed to tell the truth about Felt (and, strangely, only online -- no one at The Nation thought it was worth sharing with print subscribers or purchasers of the magazine). Though Juan Gonzalez lived through that time period (and had no desire to 'celebrate' Mark Felt), Amy Goodman is too young to make the same claim and, like many who know the realities of that time period, she didn't learn of it from the pages of The Nation.
That may be the most amazing thing about Phelps nonsense. The same magazine that elected to toss roses in Felt's path, elects to demonize Dohrn and can't even stop for one moment to speak of the many laws the government broke in their efforts to break up SDS (and other movements) and to persecute Dorhn. If Dorhn were the criminal the government tarred her as, don't you think she'd be behind bars right now?
The reality is Dohrn was a movement leader and that's her real 'crime.' It was her crime in the eyes of an out of control US government (which included Felt) and it's her 'crime' in the eyes of Little Phelps who just knows he would have had his menses if only Dohrn hadn't screwed the entire movement up. (When Dohrn and others broke off in 1969, nothing prevented SDS from reforming but SDS' own internal problems.)
Joni Mitchell rightly noted (in "Dog Eat Dog") that "you get witch hunts and wars when church and state hold hands." What do you get when a supposed independent magazine holds hands with the Council of Foreign Relations?

I love that article. I think it's one of our best ones and I didn't even give you the humor from it! It's funny as hell. But I wanted to pick that part because where are you going to learn about COINTEL-PRO? Not a lot of places because it seems like a lot of people really don't want you to know. The Nation didn't want you to know about it. They didn't open up their archives, they didn't connect the dots between now and then. But like Elijah pointed out, strongly, in her speech, what was done then is what got pushed through after 9-11. When the government breaks the law, there should be consequences. When the police break the law, there should be consequences. Elijah gave a great speech and if you're tired of being uninformed or underinformed you really need to listen to her. And if you need some laughs, read our article because it makes me laugh so hard. I chose the serious part to highlight because it went to what Elijah was speaking about but there are so many funny things in that including a thing about a Dodge that still makes me laugh. :D

The last segment was covered by C.I. in Wednesday's "Iraq snapshot:"


On this week's Law and Disorder (WBAI on Monday and others throughout the ) featured Anthony Arnove's remarks from the Left Forum panel Iraq: What's At Stake (which also featured A.K. Gupta, Christian Parenti, Gilbert Achcar and Nir Rosen) that was held March 11th.

Anthony Arnove: The fundamental political reality is that the US occupation -- not al Qaeda, not Iran, not Syria -- is the reason for the insurgency in Iraq which is why no amount of 'surges' of additional troops, programs for police training, rhetoric about cutting off supply routes to Iran and Syria, or plans for victory is going to end the resistance to US occupation.Iraq today is an unqualified disaster even from the standpoint of the US ruling class. One can now regularly read on the pages of the Finanical Times and the Wall St. Journal establishment observers who proclaim Iraq the greatest foreign policy mistake in the history of the United States -- greater even than Vietnam.
[. . . ]
The Democrats came into a majority in the House, the Senate and the state governorships last Novemember as a result of a vote against the war in Iraq yet what have they done since taking office?
For all the laughable rhetoric about exporting democracy in Iraq and the Middle East -- which is the opposite of US intentions -- we now see again how little democracy we have at home as well. So far, the boldest measure the Democrats have been able to muster was to pass a non-binding House resolution criticizing the additional 21,500 troops Bush has sent to Iraq -- not the underlying occupation, not the military bases, not the economic occupation, not the presence of a 100,000 private mercenaries operating without any accountablility. The deaths, though, of Iraqis are binding. The deaths of US soldiers are binding. And let's remember that the Democrats, certainly the party's key leadership voted overwhelmingly to support Bush's invasion, that they have repeatedly voted to appropriate more funding for the occupation, and now many leading Democrats are pushing to add more than seventeen billion dollars to Bush's one hundred billion supplemental funding request for the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. Only now that the occupation is widely recognized as a complete disaster do you have Democrats voicing muted criticism of the war but much if it is utterly superficial.
[. . .]
There will be growing pressure on all of us as the 2008 presidentional election cycle continues to pick up to restrict the debate in this country to ever more narrow circles but we cannot afford to fall into that trap. If we become a lobbying wing of the Democratic Party we will become not more relevant as some insist but we will become irrelevant. The anti-war movement must maintain its independence and must continue to mobolize to fight for its own independent demands which I think first and foremost should be for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

One thing I wondered, did the sound drop out on my CD copy? The ending C.I.'s quoting, I missed it when I listened and had to turn up the volume and go back to actually hear it.
Anthony Arnove also talked about a speech Barack Obama gave recently saying there should be no more coddling of Iraq. Hillary Clinton wanted to know how much more are we willing to sacrifice. "As if the Iraqis asked us to invade their country," Anthony Arnove noted.

Anthony Arnove also took on Obama and Clinton's desire to move the war/focus onto Iran, Syria and Afghanistan. He urged everyone to read (with "a stiff drink") Obama's speech to AIPAC which you can read here and that's HTML format not PDF because when members complain to C.I. we all hear about it nicely. :D (Seriously, PDF does freeze up some members computers. Everyone doesn't have a nice, shiny new computer. C.I.'s explained that point again and honestly shouldn't have had to. But I promise no PDF here unless I give you a heads up.)


So that was the show. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, June 1, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, two US soldiers remain missing (someone tell the national press), the US military announces more deaths, May becomes the third worst month of the illegal war thus far in terms of US military fatalities, Nancy Youssef looks at payouts to Iraqis, and Veterans of Foreign Wars stands with Iraq Veterans Against the War's Adam Kokesh -- which begs the question of where the psuedo 'left' and 'centrist' groups are -- you know all the useless groups who take up time endorsing candidates while maintaing "we're non-partisan." Guess they must all be off to the (election) races. Someone tell the Marx Brothers.


Starting with apparently breaking news: Alex R. Jimenez and Byron W. Fouty are missing. The two US soldiers have been missing since May 12th. The military has not announced that the two have been found, it's just the press that's lost interest in the story -- the big press. Possibly, if they worked for a corporation with lots of money to toss around (isn't that how they got the contract to begin with?), the New York Times, et al, would take a moment to remember that two US soldiers have been missing since May 12th.
Jennifer Manley (Queens Chronicle) spoke with Maria del Rosario Duran and Ramon Jimenez who are the parents of Alex Jimenez, "Each night in Corona, Jimenez's parents keep the faith that their son is luckier. Despite the grim evidence to the contrary, Duran believes in her heart that he is alive. 'That's what I hope. That's what I have put in my mind,' she said." Manley notes that vigils for Alex Jimenez were originally packed but "[b]y Tuesday, the numbers had dwindled and the news coverage had as well. About a dozen people remained, mostly the family's friend and neighbors." Adam Pincus (Times Ledger) reports Maria del Rosario Duran is unable to sleep or eat while she awaits some word on her son and quotes what she would to say to her son ("Alex, I miss you. Alex, please come to my house.") and what she would say to the Bully Boy ("This is a desperate mother. Stop this thing and bring them home. Every day this is happening. George Bus, please bring them home.") Rosario Duran last saw her son in December when he got a pass to attend the funeral of his grandmother. She tells Christina Santucci (Queens Courier), "I cannot do anything but think about where is my son. What's he doing? Who has my son?" and Ramon Jimenez states, "I pray every night for the three missing people. And I say, 'God give me my son back!'"

The three soldiers refers to Joseph Anzack whose body was found. On May 12th, 4 US soldiers and 1 Iraqi translator were found dead from an attack and three US soldiers were classified missing and assumed captured. Jimenez and Byron Fouty remain missing -- not at all unlike big media's coverage.
CBS and AP break from the pack to note that, while the search for the 5 British contractors (one is considered a consultant) continues, "the hunt for two U.S. soldiers missing since an ambush on May 12 has slowed down."

KXAN (NBC, Texas) reports that Byron Fouty's family released a statement yesterday: "Son, we are so proud of you and for who you are, what you stand for. We know in our hearts, you were doing what you needed to do in Iraq, and we would have never expected any less from you. You are our Hero, our son. We will miss you and love you forever. Love, Mom and Dad." Today is day 20 that Jimenez and Fouty have been missing. Day 20. Big media moved on to the story of contractors -- from England -- because that's cleary the biggest domestic story coming out of Iraq. (That was sarcasm.)

Turning to news of
Adam Kokesh who faces a hearing Monday, June 4th in Kansas City, MO that will determine the status of his discharge (previously "honorable") and would determine the status of his benefits. The Manny Named Brian (Public Eye, CBS) offers that Kokesh may be the new Cindy Sheehan, that he's "photogenic" and "sure seems like the kind of thing that could gather momentum as the summer heats up." (I swear, I did not make that up, use the link.) From the world of Candy Perfume Boy, to the Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA) which has a press release from which we'll note this "Executive director of Iraq Veterans Against the War, [Kelly] Dougherty was in Iraq from March 2003 to February 2004 with the Colorado National Guard. She said today: 'This is not so much about Adam as it is an attempt by the military brass to silence opposition to the war among veterans. The military is supposed to fight to preserve free speech, not quashing it. Not only are veterans, who can attest to the realities of this war, increasingly speaking out against the war -- but its grim realities are moving them to increasingly take nonviolent direct action to stop it." AP reports that "The Veterans of Foreign Wars is urging the military to show 'a little common sense' and call off its investigation of a group of Iraq war veterans who wore their uniforms during war protests." Sam Hananel (AP) quotes the national commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars, Gary Kurpius, stating, "We all know that people give up some individual rights when they joint the military. But these Marines went to war, did their duty, and were honorably discharged from the active roles. I may disagree with their message, but I will always defend their right to say it."


Eric Ruder (Socialist Worker) observes that the goal in going after Kokesh and Liam Madden is "silencing criticism from veterans -- discharge them again, but this time less than honorably" and quotes Tod Ensign (Citizen Soldier and Different Drummer Cafe) stating, "These are important issues, and they go to the question of military-civilian balance, and when you cease being bound by military rules. Are Liam and Adam bound by those rules? I'd say hell no. This is just a trial balloon, and it's harassment. But if they get away with it, you can be sure that they will then start becoming more draconian and their sweep of other people will be expanded. This could have a very chilling effect on the IVAW, to say the least." Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) provides a strong overview of the issues at stake and noted that Monday's hearing/administrative meeting is not expected to result in a quick 'verdict' but a recommendationg that Master Sgt. Ronald Spencer says "can take up to two weeks."

Adam Kokesh wore fatigues during DC actions in March, Liam Madden, as
David Montgomery (Washington Post) noted, "is accused of wearing his camouflage shirt at an antiwar march in Washington in January." For all the drama the military's created, you'd think the two (and a third who has been unidentified) had shown up in their dress uniform. David Morgan (Reuters) identifies the third: Cloy Richards. Cloy Richards is an Iraq veteran who suffers from PTSD. Both he and his mother Tina Richards have discussed this publicly. Apparently the US military believes the way to 'help' Cloy Richards is to threaten the veteran with loss of benefits. If that doesn't digust you, what does? Last week, Tina Richards discussed her son's suicide attempt with Kris Welch on KPFA's Living Room. Getting help for his PTSD has been a battle for Cloy Richards to begin with, the US military's lack of "common sense" just became even more visible.

As the lack of "common sense" becomes more apparent to the public, war resistance continues to grow within the US military.
Pepe Lozano (People's Weekly World) reports on the June 19th event by the Rosenberg Fund for Children which "will commemorate the 54th anniversary of the Rosenbergs' execution with 'Celebrate the Children of Resistance." The fund was created by Robert Meeropol, the son of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, and guests will include Angela Davis, Eve Ensler, Howard Zinn, David Strathairn as well as US war resister Camilo Mejia who notes, "When you prosecute an activist, it brings hard times to the family, especially for children like [his daughter] Samantha. People have to realize there is a family behind activists, and there should be more groups like RFC." Mejia's book Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia (The New Press) came out at the beginning of May and Iraq Veterans Against the War's Martin Smith (Socialist Worker) reviewed it noting: "Mejia's work -- written from the vantage of a soldier who served and saw firsthand the consequences of U.S. imperialism -- cuts through the deceptions and lies used to justify the war. . . . Beyond Mejia's exposure of the lies of occupation, the strength of his book is the humility with which Mejia explains the change within himself that led to his decision to follow the conscience and oppose war." John Catalinotto (Workers World) provided a wide ranging look at war resistance within the US military this week and noted of Iraq war resister Ehren Watada that his "court-martial is still pending after the military uniltaterally decided to declare his first trial a mistrial last February, has now had the court-martial postponed once more. At first scheduled for June 23 at Ft. Lewis, the trial is now on hold until it is determined if re-starting the trial would mean that Watada faced 'double jeopardy.' It is still possible that the Army will be forced to drop charges on Lt. Watada, the first officer to refuse duty in Iraq."

The growing movement of war resistance within the US military includes Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.



Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

On Memorial Day,
Michael Kamber (New York Times) reported from Iraq on the rising disillusion of some serving in Iraq noting Staff Sgt. David Safstrom's comments about how he felt when first deployed -- "In Mosul, in 2003, it felt like we were making the city a better place. There was no sectarian violence, Saddam was gone, we were tracking down the bad guys. It felt awesome" -- compared to now -- "I thought:'What are we doing here? Why are we still here?' We're helping guys that are trying to kill us. We help them in the day. They turn around at night and try to kill us." On a semi-related note, Peter Laufer -- journalist, author of many books including Mission Rejected: U.S. Soldiers Who Say No to Iraq and former NBC correspondent, debuts Sunday with his new (still unnamed) program on KPFA, taking over the slot Larry Bensky has occupied until recently (9:00 am to 11:00 am PST).
The announcement was made today during the
KPFA Management Report to the Listeners.
More information can be found on Laufer
here.


Meanwhile,
Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) reports: "The Department of Defense spent nearly $31 million in three years in condolence payments to civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, but it didn't rack how it doled out the money, a Government Accountability Officer report found" -- which, she notes, didn't include what monies were paid for property damage, loss of life or for injuries. Youssef notes that the report states that June of 2003 was when the US military began offering compensation. In his book The Deserter's Tale, Joshua Key shares (p. 97) the story of how the process had no rhyme or reason but, at one point, $50 was given to one Iraqi male whose home had been damaged and bed burned when US illumination rounds "crashed into his home".

The violence continued today.

Bombings?

Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing this morning that claimed 1 life (2 wounded), an afternoon Baghdad bombing that wounded four police officers, a third Baghdad bombing that left 3 dead, three Baghdad mortar attacks that left
11 dead (32 wounded), a Salaheddin truck bombing that killed 12 civilians ("and two houses were destroyed"), a Basra mortar attack that left four police officers wounded, and 3 Kirkuk bombings that left 2 dead (6 wounded).
Reuters notes a Kirkuk roadside bombing which injured five police officers and a Mahmudiya mortar attack that claimed 2 lives (four wounded).

Shootings?

Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Kirkuk attack in which an Iraqi soldier was shot dead. The US military announced today that they killed three children while firing on what they hope were insurgents (one of whom they killed, two of whom escaped).

Corpses?

Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 15 corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes six corpses discovered in Baquba.

Today, the
US military announced: "Baghdad Soldier was killed when a patrol was attacked with small arms fire in the eastern section of the Iraqi capital May 31." This brought count of the total US forces killed in Iraq for the month of May to 125 (caution, there may be more announcements pending) making May the third worst month for US fatalities since the start of the illegal war in March of 2003. And the US military announced: "One MNC-I Soldier was killed by small arms fire at approximately noon June 1 in the vincinty of Zawiyah." This brings the total number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 3477.


Late yesterday,
Reuters reported that 26 year-old AP camera person Saif M. Fakhry was shot dead in Baghdad on Thursday. Reporters Without Borders has issued a call. Noting that four journalists had been killed in five days (their call was written before news of Saif M. Fakhry's death was broadcast), they declare: "The Iraqi authorities must fulfil their duty to protect journalists. We call for the creation of a special force within the national police to identify the perpetrators and instigators of killings of journalists and to organise awareness campaigns about the protection of journalists for all the Iraqi security forces and for the public. To help the investigators, a witness protection programme should also be set up with the help of countries in the region." Organize awareness campaigns among Iraqi forces? Drop back to the January 25th snapshot: "This 'fine' Iraqi military that al-Maliki intends to turn loose on homes and schools includes some real thugs as evidenced by incident reported this morning by Damien Cave and James Glanz (New York Times): 'One Iraqi soldier in the alley pointed his rifle at an American reporter and pulled the trigger. There was only a click, the weapon had no ammunition. The soldier laughed at his joke'."


Meanwhile, in news that is sure to soften
ultimate War Pornographer Michael Gordon's war on, CBS and AP report: "U.S. military officers tell CBS News the troop surge, which has not reached full strength, stands no chance of succeeding by September." Which is why, yesterday, the military sent out flacks attempting to reset the clocks and take the pressure off the upcoming September progress report.

PBS'
NOW with David Brancaccio has interviewed Cindy Sheehan about her decision to pull back currently ("We're going to pull back and regroup and figure out a better way to come at this," Sheehan tells Brancacio) and the interview can be streamed here or you can catch it via YouTube. In addition, they offer Shron Clemons sharing his poetry (written while in the Sheridan Correctional Center of Illinois) at YouTube here.

Also on Cindy Sheehan,
Laura Flanders (writing at Common Dreams) notes:

Two years later, Sheehan's pushed another question into the public glare. Quitting the Democratic Party and
resigning from the front ranks of the US anti-war movement, Sheehan said out loud what hundreds of Democratic voters have been muttering: Democrats in Congress -who do you think you're working for?
In a
letter to Democratic leaders shortly after they permitted a vote in Congress that approved $120 billion more for war, Sheehan wrote: "There is absolutely no sane or defensible reason for you to hand Bloody King George more money to condemn more of our brave, tired, and damaged soldiers and the people of Iraq to more death and carnage."
The president's never been more unpopular, nor has his Iraq war. Yet a majority of Democrats in both houses voted "aye" to keep the funding flowing.
Speaking with
me on Air America Radio soon afterwards, Sheehan called it a betrayal. "Before they came into power they told me it was because they were in the minority. Now it's because they're the majority? What stakes do they have in keeping this occupation going?" Given the choice of funding an unpopular war or being accused by the right wing vitriol machine of "abandoning the troops," 86 Democrats in the House and all but 14 in the Senate voted to sacrifice more troops. Sheehan called that playing "party politics with human lives."

Laura Flanders is the host of
RadioNation with Laura Flanders which now airs at one p.m. Sundays on Air America Radio, XM satellite radio and streams online.

In other news, Saturday from 10:00 am until noon (PST),
KPFA will broadcast a Pacifica Radio and Free Speech Radio News special hosted by Sonali Kolhatkar (host of KPFK's
Uprising) and Dalia Hashad (attorney, the USA program director for Amnesty International and one of the co-hosts of WBAI's Law and Disorder). The special will address the new Senate bill on immigration which is due to be voted on shortly and "present challenging interviews with lawmakers, and look at global dynamics that lead to migration and Europe's own crackdown on immigration."

In media news, as independent media continues to be under attack, News Dissector Danny Schechter's "
Special Blog: Can Our Media Channel Survive?" announces the potential fate of
Mediachannel.org which may shut down: "If we can get 1500 of our readers (that means you) to give $25, we can keep going for another quarter. [PLEASE CLICK HERE TO MAKE A TAX-DEDUCTIBLE DONATION ONLINE]"

Finally, independent journalist John Pilger is on a speaking tour with his new book Freedom Next Time and his documentary Breaking the Silence: Truth and Lies in the War on Terror (which looks at DC, Afghanistan and Iraq). June 7th, he will discuss his book with Amy Goodman at The New School, Tishman Auditorium, 66 West 12th Street, beginning at 7:00 pm (doors open at 6:15). Admission is $5 per person and students (with ID) can attend for free. Pilger will sign copies of his book afterwards and Amy Goodman will sign copies of her latest book (written with her brother David Goodman) Static. "For ticket information, contact (212) 229-5488 or
boxoffice@newschool.edu. For media inquiries, contact (212) 209-5407 or ruth@nationbooks.org For more information, click here or e-mail pilgerny@gmail.com." June 11th, Pilger will be in Los Angeles at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center (244 S. San Pedro St.) and will discuss his book and show his documentary beginning at 7:00 pm (doors open at 6:00 pm). The price of admission to the even is five dollars. "Directions, maps, and parking info at: http://www.jaccc.org/directions.htmPresented by The Center for Economic Research and Social Change, and The Nation Institute, with support from the Wallace Global Fund. For ticket information, call or visit the JACCC. Box office: 213-680-3700 (Box Office Hours: Monday - Saturday: Noon - 5 pm)For media inquiries, contact (212) 209-5407 or ruth@nationbooks.org For more information, email pilger.la@gmail.com." June 13th finds him in San Francisco showing his film and discussing his book at Yerba Beuna Center for Arts (beginning at 7:00 pm, doors open at 6:00 pm) and the price of admission is $15 general and $5 for students. "Presented by The Center for Economic Research and Social Change, The Nation Institute, and KPFA, with support from the Wallace Global Fund. For ticket information, call 415-978-2787 or order online at http://www.ybca.org/. In person tickets at YBCA Box office located inside the Galleries and Forum Building, 701 Mission Street at Third. (Hours: Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat & Sun: noon - 5 pm; Thu: noon - 8 pm.) For media inquiries, contact (212) 209-5407 or ruth@nationbooks.org For more information, email pilgersf@gmail.com." From San Francisco, he moves on to Chicago for the 2007 Socialism conference. At 11:30 am Saturday June 16th, he and Anthony Arnove will participate in a conversation, audience dialogue and book signing (Arnove is the author most recently of IRAQ: The Logic of Withdrawal) and that evening (still June 16th) at 7:30 Pilger will be at Chicago Crowne Plaza O'Hare (5440 North River Road, Rosemont, IL 60018) as part of a panel of international activists. To attend the conference, the fee is $85. For Saturday and Sunday only, the price is $70. To attend only one session, the cost is ten dollars. "Presented by The Center for Economic Research and Social Change, The Nation Institute, with support from the Wallace Global Fund. Co-sponsors: Obrera Socialista, Socialist Worker, International Socialist Review, and Haymarket Books. For ticket information, call 773-583-8665 or e-mail info@socialismconference.org For media inquiries, contact (212) 209-5407 or ruth@nationbooks.org. For more information, email info@socialismconference.org." The Socialism 2007 conference will take place in Chicago from June 14-17. Along with Pilger and Arnove, others participating will include Dahr Jamail, Laura Flanders, Kelly Dougherty, Joshua Frank, Amy Goodman, Sharon Smith, Dave Zirin, Camilo Mejia, Jeremy Scahill, Jeffrey St. Clair and many others.


















Thursday, May 31, 2007

Guantanamo Bay, Center for Constitutional Rights

Thursday and I planned to write about Law and Disorder but that will have to wait until tomorrow because I saw something that I thought needed some more attention right away.
Remember that Day of Action to Restore Law and Justice - June 26, 2007 happens in June and remember that it's been five years and counting that prisoners at Guantanamo Bay have been denied the justice that we are supposed to support and practice in the United States. This is a link from the Center for Constitutional Rights:

Send a letter to your representatives demanding the restoration of habeas corpus

That'll let you write your reps and say, "Stop it! Bring back justice!" And we need to and if you don't think we do . . . C.I. e-mailed me this press release from CCR, "Center For Constitutional Rights Condemns Death of Fourth Guantanamo Prisoner:"

NEW YORK - MAY 31 - The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) today condemned the death of a fourth prisoner held without charge or trial at Guant√°namo Bay, Cuba. The detainee is Saudi but has not yet been identified by the Department of Defense.
"In the last year, the conditions at Guantanamo have become even more bleak: the military has increasingly held people in solitary confinement and continued to refuse to allow independent psychological evaluations. The United States government is responsible for this man’s death and must be held accountable," said Wells Dixon, Staff Attorney for the CCR Guantanamo Global Justice Initiative. "By refusing to hear the men's cases or exercise any oversight of their conditions, the judiciary contributed further to the desperation of the detainees, and Congress, in failing to restore the fundamental right of habeas corpus, dealt the final blow."
This death comes nearly one year after the deaths of three men at Guant√°namo on June 10, 2006. The Government has still provided extremely limited information to the families and lawyers of the deceased, and challenged an attempt to preserve evidence related to the deaths.
"The legal black hole of Guantanamo is an unconscionable mistake," said Michael Ratner, President of CCR. "Nearly three years ago, the Supreme Court in Rasul held that Guantanamo detainees have the right to challenge their detention. The right of habeas corpus must be restored and Guantanamo must be closed. No one else should have to die because of this tragic mistake."
CCR has requested the identification of the deceased from the Department of Justice, and has demanded that the military preserve all evidence related to the deaths and the deceased. CCR has received no response yet from the Department of Justice.
About CCR
The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) is a non-profit legal and educational organization dedicated to protecting and advancing the rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights demonstrators in the South, CCR is committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.
www.ccr-ny.org
###

How does that make you feel? I thought I'd write about L&D tonight. But I really don't see how. I thought it be a serious post with a few laughs. But that's four dead now. Will the next number be the one that wakes us up? Will we care then? Or is it just something will shrug over?

We're not still pretending "terrorists," are we? Terrorists would have been put on a trial. A big and showy trial to prove to the world Bully Boy's plan had worked. This is the man who embarrassed himself by strutting on a ship with "Mission Accomplished" behind him. You don't think he'd love a "slam dunk"?

But these prisoners do not get trials. They just get held day after day, year after year and it's really going to take us screaming no to end this.

How long could you take that? Five years? You don't think you'd have gone crazy before that?
They say that this guy who died was from Saudi Arabia and that he trained with US forces awhile back before he allegedly joined the Taliban. Allegedly because they grab people and turn them in for rewards. That's one of the realities about Guantanamo.

That's probably why they can't do trials. They have nothing on the people and they'd have to reveal how they ended up imprisoned to begin with.

I remember the 20 minutes of one day in high school that we spent on the internment of the Japanese Americans during WWII. We were all pretty self-righteous. More self-righteous than we were outraged, if you ask me. Our attitude was something like, "What losers. We'd never be that stupid to do something like that." We thought we were so much better than the Americans who had stayed silent while Japanese Americans were wrongly imprisoned.

But we're really not. We've allowed ourselves to be scared by the government to the point that we say, "Do what you want, just don't tell us!" That's what happened then too. The Japanese Americans were scapegoated and wrongly imprisoned. If Americans had demanded justice then it wouldn't have gone on and on. And if we demanded justice now, Guantanamo would be closed. So 40 years down the line, expect a lot of high schools students to laugh at how stupid we were today.

They'll think "losers." They'll think, "It could never happen today." All it takes is an administration that doesn't believe in the law or the Constitution and Americans who refuse to demand that the government honor the Constitution they took an oath to uphold.

See that's the really dirty secret of today: You don't even have to believe the people at Guantanamo are innocent, you just have to believe in the Constitution. You just have to be willing to say: "Give them a trial." But if you don't believe in the Constitution, you won't do that. You'll hide behind "they're terrorists" and pretend like that justifies not allowing real trials. If they're really terrorists, don't you think the American people have a right to know about it? Don't you think families and friends who lost loved ones on 9-11 have a right to know about it?

But if you don't believe in the Constitution, if you don't believe in justice, just keep staying silent and do nothing. That's the USSR way, right? Oh wait, this is the United States, where we're supposed to believe in speaking out and believe in open justice.

So that's what I wanted to write about tonight or, really, what I felt like I needed to write about tonight. I really wanted a fun post tonight and this isn't that.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

May 31, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military attempts to bully a soldier on his way out (14 days before he leaves, they set up a kangaroo court), the US military announces the death of more US soldiers, Joe Lieberman takes his sour charm to Baghdad and avoids the truth (again), and more.


Starting with
Adam Kokesh who is currently in the Individual Ready Reserve through June 18th and had the status of honorably discharged. What concerns us today (we noted this on May 23rd), and we better go slowly because AP gets lost on the details, is what's happening today. In March, Iraq Veterans Against the War took part in DC actions to bring the war home. Adam Kokesh participated in that action wearing fatigues. Following that, the military contacted him and we have to say "the military" because the coward who e-mailed him is too chicken sh*t to be known publicly. This is the point at which AP, in a throwback to their THEY-ALL-WALKED-OUT! Pearl Jam coverage, misses the point.

They leap to "Kokesh, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, responded with an obscenity."
Major Chicken Sh*t wrote an e-mail brimming with sarcasm "I know this matter pales in comparsion with recent geopolitical events of which you have shown an interest" being only one example. And "I have a desire to let a fellow Marine know about his obligations and duty" may be folksy but it's not military standard (which is why Kokesh and Tina Richards both wondered if the e-mail was genuine). On line 43 of Kokesh's 44 lined e-mail, the f-word is used. AP reporting that Kokesh was sent "a letter" and that he "responded with an obscenity" is bad reporting. No "letter" was exchanged by either side. (Though an official letter, registered, should have been sent through the United States postal service by the military if they are investigating anyone in IRR.) And Kokesh did not respond to "a letter" with "an obscenity." He responded at length (44 lines). And let's just repeat that point outside of parentheticals: If the US military is investigating someone, the US military's means of contact needs to be official, written in an official manner -- not folksy, sarcastic e-mail. (Again, Kokesh showed the e-mail to Cloy Richards mother Tina and they both wondered about its authenticity.)

Kevin Zeese (Democracy Rising) observes, "The implications of this hearing may be far reaching, as the prosecution of a member of the inactive reserves under these circumstances is unprecedented. At stake is the right of freedom of speech for the hundreds of thousands of members of the Inactive Ready Reserve, as well as the nation's right to get the unbiased truth out of Iraq. Last week, the prosecuting attorney, Captain Sibert, offered Kokesh a general discharge. To accept this would be to allow the Marines to say that members of the IRR do not have freedom of speech, so naturally he declined." The AP notes one of Kokesh's attorneys, Mike "Lebowitz [,] said Kokesh technically is a civilian unless recalled to active duty and had the right to be disrespectful in his response to the officer. He called the proceedings against Kokesh highly unusual and said the military usually seeks to change a veteran's discharge status only if a crime has been committed."
Kevin Zeese reports, "The hearing will be held on June 4, at the Marine Corps Mobilization Command in Kansas City, MO. Kokesh requested the hearing be held closer to Washington, DC, his current residence and a much more convenient location for the witnesses to the event in question, which happened in Washington, but was denied. He has the right to call witnesses, but has to provide for their transportation." Dave Helling (The Kansas City Star) notes, "If the tribunal answers yes, Kokesh will face the punishment a Marine Corps deputy commander has recommended in his case -- immediate discharge from the individual ready reserves, and the reduction of his original honorable active duty discharge to an other-than-honorable characterization of service. Kokesh is fighting both sanctions, he says, because he wants to protect the rights of others in the military to argue against the war." David Montgomery (Washington Post) notes that there are two others the military is going after -- one can't be determined, the other is "Liam Madden, 22, who spent seven months on the ground in Iraq, last fall helped launch the Appeal for Redress, a Web site where military personnel can directly appeal to Congress to support withdrawal of troops. Madden, of Boston, is accused of wearing his caouflage shirt at an antiwar march in Washington in January. He also is accused of making disloyal statement during a speech in February in New York, when he says he wasn't wearing his uniform." June 1st (tomorrow), there will be a press conference and Send off Rally at Union Station (in DC) for Adam Kokesh and then the Yellow Rose of Texas Peace Bus will head for Kansas City, MO.

As the military continues to crack down the war resistance movement within the US military continues to grow and that includes people such as Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.



Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Turning to Iraq where the military wants you to forget that 2 US soldiers remain missing since May 12 and the press is happy to distract you from that reality by heavy panting over the missing 5 British contractors.
Reuters reports that "an Iraqi husband and wife employed by the US embassy in Baghdad" were kidnapped last week and the Islamic State in Iraq is claiming credit for the kidnapping and stating that they killed the couple Monday. They were Iraqis so there was apparently no need to send 9,000 US service members to look for them. But there is plenty of time for US service members to be used searching for 5 British citizens who elected to go to Iraq to profit from the illegal war. For the record, when the search for the then-3 missing US soldiers was going on it was billed as a US and Iraq joint-operation -- no British soldiers were brought up from, for instance, Basra to help in that search. But this is about Big Business so everyone has to drop what they were doing and go searching. Not unlike when the death of mercenaries led to the attacks on Falluja.

As if that wasn't bad enough, US service members also had to endure a visit with Senator I Will Say Anything And Sell At Anyone Just To Keep My Senate Seat. Though this century's Zell Miller has yet to embrace the GOP designation, he's all Repube. Joe Lieberman (who destroyed the 2000 recounts in his vanity appearance on NBC's Meet the Press) went to Iraq where he did and will do more damage.
Lelia Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) reports the water mark piece on Lieberman's visit. After a "lunch of roast beef and turkey sandwiches" No-Mentum, Joe-Mentum had the need to ride this photo op for all it was worth and used it sell the illegal war (violence apparently only bothers on movie screens and in rap lyrics) by saying "To pull out would be a disaster." That might have worked on his two wives (and explain the three children) but none of the rest of us are willing to let Jo-Jo get limp and drippy on top of us for one minutes and six seconds. Jo-Jo then used the soldiers to hide from reality, "They're not Pollyannaish about his. They know it's not going to be solved in a day or a month." Too bad for Jo-Jo's photo op, Fadel showed up before the senator and heard the soldiers. David Williams had "two note cards" with questions from "30 other soldiers" and the biggest one: "When are we going to get out of here." Williams told Fadel that returning for his tour in Iraq mean that he missed the birth of his child and "I didn't want to come back. . . . We're waiting to get blown up." Will Hedin tells Fadel, "We're not making any progress. It just seems like we drive around and wait to get shot at."
Then Jo-Jo crawled in with an announcement of "To pull out would be a disaster" and other assorted ass wipings. Is it any wonder the soldiers didn't speak frankly? No, and it's no surprise that Joe Lieberman can't see reality even when it sits down next to him.

Meanwhile
Donald C. Hudson Jr. pens an op-ed from Iraq (Clarksville Online): ". . . I have been serving our country's military actively for the last three years. I am currently deployed to Baghdad on Forward Operating Base Loyalty, where I have been for the last four and a half months. I came here as part of the first wave of this so called 'troop surge', but so far it has effectively done nothing to quell insurgent violence. I have seen the rise in violence between the Sunni and Shiite. This country is in the middle of a civil war that has been on going since the seventh century. Why are we here when this country still to date does not want us here? Why does our president's personal agenda consume him so much, that he can not pay attention wo what is really going on here? Let me tell you a story. On May 10, I was out on a convoy mission to move barriers from a market to a joint security station. It was no different from any other night, except the improvised explosive device that hit our convoy this time, actually pierced through the armor of one of our trucks. The truck was immediately engulfed in flames, the driver lost control and wrecked the truck into one of the buildings lining the street. I was the driver of the lead truck in our convoy; the fifth out of six was the one that got hit. All I could hear over the radio was a friend from the sixth truck screaming that the fifth truck was burning up real bad, and that they needed fire extinguishers real bad. So I turned my truck around and drove through concrete barriers to get to the burning truck as quickly as I could. I stopped 30 meters short of the burning truck, got out and ripped my fire extinguisher out of its holder, and ran to the truck. I ran past another friend of mine on the way to the burning truck, he was screaming something but I could not make it out. I opened the driver's door to the truck and was immediately overcome by the flames. I sprayed the extinguisher into the door, and then I saw my roommate's leg. He was the gunner of that truck. His leg was across the driver's seat that was on fire and the rest of his body was further in the truck. My fire extinguisher died and I climbed into the truck to attempt to save him. I got to where his head was, in the back passenger-side seat. I grabbed his shoulders and attempted to pull him from the truck out the driver's door. I finally got him out of the truck head first. His face had been badly burned. His leg was horribly wounded. We placed him on a spine board and did our best to attempt 'Buddy Aid'. We heard him trying to gasp for air. He had a pulse and was breathing, but was not responsive. He was placed into a truck and rushed to the 'Green Zone', where he died within the hour. His name was Michael K. Frank. He was 36 years old. He was a great friend of mine and a mentor to most of us younger soldiers here. Now I am still here in this country wondering why, and having to pick up the pieces of what is left of my friend in our room. I would just like to know what is the true reason we are here? This country poses no threat to our own. So why must we waste the lives of good men on a country that does not give a damn about itself? Most of my friends here share my views, but do not have the courage to say anything." Nobody tell Joe Lieberman about that -- he still thinks because he went on a heavily guarded tour he knows, really knows, reality in Iraq.

Editor & Publisher notes actual reality: a new Gallup poll asked participants what they would tell Bully Boy about Iraq if they had 15 minutes? 565: "focus on getting out of Iraq," 6% own your mistakes and admit them, 7% work with the UN and study groups. And representing the mentally unbalanced, the Joe Liebermans and gag writers everywhere, 4% would tell the Bully to stay in Iraq. (I'm sure a large number would voice support for sending Bully Boy to serve in Iraq, but that wasn't asked.)


In Iraq today . . .

Bombings?

Sinan Salaheddin (AP) reports that a bombing in Falluja killed "as many as 25 people" and noted a funeral procession ("some of the women wailing and beating their chests, marched through Sadr City") in response to a "U.S. helicopter strike before dawn" that killed two people and which the US military denies but Iraqi police confirm. Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports three people wounded in a roadside Baghdad bombing, a Ramadi truck bombing that killed one person (wounded 13), and a Kirkuk roadside bombing that wounded four. Reuters notes that the Ramadi bombing's death toll has risen to 5, a Baghdad car bombing wounded 2 Iraqi adults, 1 child and 8 US soldiers, 2 roadside bombs in Tal Afar resulted in the death of 1 Iraqi soldier and five people wounded (four police officers, 1 Iraqi soldier), and a Tal Afar rocket attack killed one person.


Shootings?

Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a police officer was shot dead in Baghdad, one police officer was wounded by "a sniper" in Tikrit and "Dr. Muhammad Aziz, who works as a lecturer at Fine Arts Academy in Basra" was shot dead. Reuters reports a home invasion in Iskandariya left tribal leader Ubaid al-Masoudi and his wife injured.

Corpses?

Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 29 corpses were discovered in Baghdad, 1 in Zubair, and 3 corpses discovered in Baquba. Reuters reports five corpses were discovered in Mosul.


Today the
US military announced: "While conducting combat operations northwest of the Iraqi capital, a Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldier was seriously wounded when an improvised explosive device detonated May 28. The Soldier was taken to the Combat Support Hospital but died of wounds May 29." And they announced: "While conducting combat operations in the southwest section of the Iraqi capital, two Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldiers were killed when an improvised explosive device detonated May 30." The three deaths bring the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 3474 thus far and May's toll to 123 thus far. Only April and November of 2004 have had higher monthly tolls (135 and 137). The four year mark was passed in March and, along with boots on the ground, the only things escalating are death tolls, chaos and violence.

Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan's decision to take time to recharge and refocus continues to be noted.
Amy Branham (Amy's Head) writes, "I don't know of anyone who could stand up under the pressure that Cindy has been in, who could stand up to the nastiness, the lies, the ignorance, the threats, the mind and body numbing travel schedule. All I do know is that I'm glad to see my friend take a break a while. And I do agree with her when she says that if the American people don't step up to end this war, we deserve what we get." Danny Schechter (writing at Common Dreams) observes:

Personally, I know how she feels. When I made the film,
WMD (Weapons of Mass Deception) challenging the media role in the war, many anti-war groups paid lip service to its message and then did little or nothing to promote it. Perhaps that's why some activists call MoveOn.org "Walkon.org" when it comes to the issues of media deception or for that matter any issues that also holds Democrats and corporate media institutions accountable.It is so much easier and emotionally self-righteous to attack easier targets like the Republicans and Bush White House.Lets face it, the media has not really changed and nor have many Democrats. They believe in convenient truths and don't recognize the importance of demanding media integrity. Don't forget that most of the media coverage was hostile to Democrats setting a timeline and many pundits pressured them to relent in the name of "pragmatism," patriotism, or getting the pork they wanted for their own districts.I don't think Cindy has really resigned from politics. But she is upset and has a right to be. She has lost so much and is also apparently in debt--something this director of the film In Debt We Trust can relate toSometimes I wish I could resign from the media reform movement that I helped organize because it has been so hard for us to get support for Mediachannel.org, our fabulous media and democracy online network now in its 7th year. We will have to close our doors in a month unless we can find the funding to keep our modest operation alive.


And remember independent journalist John Pilger is on a speaking tour with his new book Freedom Next Time and his documentary Breaking the Silence: Truth and Lies in the War on Terror (which looks at DC, Afghanistan and Iraq). June 7th, he will discuss his book with Amy Goodman at The New School, Tishman Auditorium, 66 West 12th Street, beginning at 7:00 pm (doors open at 6:15). Admission is $5 per person and students (with ID) can attend for free. Pilger will sign copies of his book afterwards and Amy Goodman will sign copies of her latest book (written with her brother David Goodman) Static. "For ticket information, contact (212) 229-5488 or
boxoffice@newschool.edu. For media inquiries, contact (212) 209-5407 or ruth@nationbooks.org For more information, click here or e-mail pilgerny@gmail.com."


June 11th, Pilger will be in Los Angeles at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center (244 S. San Pedro St.) and will discuss his book and show his documentary beginning at 7:00 pm (doors open at 6:00 pm). The price of admission to the even is five dollars. "Directions, maps, and parking info at:
http://www.jaccc.org/directions.htm
Presented by The Center for Economic Research and Social Change, and The Nation Institute, with support from the Wallace Global Fund. For ticket information, call or visit the JACCC. Box office: 213-680-3700 (Box Office Hours: Monday - Saturday: Noon - 5 pm)For media inquiries, contact (212) 209-5407 or ruth@nationbooks.org For more information, email pilger.la@gmail.com."


June 13th finds him in San Francisco showing his film and discussing his book at
Yerba Beuna Center for Arts (beginning at 7:00 pm, doors open at 6:00 pm) and the price of admission is $15 general and $5 for students. "Presented by The Center for Economic Research and Social Change, The Nation Institute, and KPFA, with support from the Wallace Global Fund. For ticket information, call 415-978-2787 or order online at http://www.ybca.org/. In person tickets at YBCA Box office located inside the Galleries and Forum Building, 701 Mission Street at Third. (Hours: Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat & Sun: noon - 5 pm; Thu: noon - 8 pm.) For media inquiries, contact (212) 209-5407 or ruth@nationbooks.org For more information, email pilgersf@gmail.com."


From San Francisco, he moves on to Chicago for the 2007 Socialism conference. At 11:30 am Saturday June 16th, he and
Anthony Arnove will participate in a conversation, audience dialogue and book signing (Arnove is the author most recently of IRAQ: The Logic of Withdrawal) and that evening (still June 16th) at 7:30 Pilger will be at Chicago Crowne Plaza O'Hare (5440 North River Road, Rosemont, IL 60018) as part of a panel of international activists. To attend the conference, the fee is $85. For Saturday and Sunday only, the price is $70. To attend only one session, the cost is ten dollars. "Presented by The Center for Economic Research and Social Change, The Nation Institute, with support from the Wallace Global Fund. Co-sponsors: Obrera Socialista, Socialist Worker, International Socialist Review, and Haymarket Books. For ticket information, call 773-583-8665 or e-mail info@socialismconference.org For media inquiries, contact (212) 209-5407 or ruth@nationbooks.org. For more information, email info@socialismconference.org."
The Socialism 2007 conference will take place in Chicago from June 14-17. Along with Pilger and Arnove, others participating will include Dahr Jamail, Laura Flanders, Kelly Dougherty, Joshua Frank, Amy Goodman, Sharon Smith, Dave Zirin, Camilo Mejia, Jeremy Scahill, Jeffrey St. Clair and many others.





iraq


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Roger Howard, Trisch Schuh

Hump day, hump day, can't trust that day. I don't know, if I had to pick, it would be a toss between Mondays and Wednesdays for which was the worst day of the week. Mondays, you really don't want the weekend to be over. You're dragging all day. You're just wanting it to get through. But you're so tired, just making it through seem like a victory by the time you're eating dinner. Wednesdays? You're not so tired and you're aware the whole time that it's not the weekend, that you've got two more days to go, and you just wonder when the weekend's going to get here. Wednesdays are like Mondays in slow motion. :D

This is Trish Schuh's "World Press Freedom in the Eyes & Ears of the Beholder:"

UNITED NATIONS- On the 14th Anniversary of World Press Freedom Day celebrated in May 3, UNESCO hosted an event for journalists called "Press Freedom, Safety of Journalists and Impunity." Under Article 1 of its Constitution, UNESCO is the only United Nations agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom.
United Nations Correspondent Association President Tuyet J. Nguyen spoke about the life-threatening danger faced by journalists covering such war zones as Rwanda and Iraq where the media is controlled by special interests or armed political parties.
Mr. Georges Malbrunot of France's neocon Le Figaro spoke of newsgathering under various "vicious surveillance" states- all Arab- and starting with Syria. In contrast, Malbrunot's embedding with American forces in Iraq was "not a bad solution", but opened embeddees to paranoid Arab charges of being "a spy...Its one of the major blames addressed to the foreign press today... Of course this blame is 99.9% wrong, but in the minds of these people who suffer from "conspiracy theory" this accusation is serious" and can cost a journalist his life. "There is alot of work to do to convince these groups that the journalist is not a spy." Malbrunot added that it is the work of Muslim Imams, scholars, leaders etc to persuade their Muslim flock of this fact... "Only then will the fate of the global war against terror be dramatically changed."
This writer asked the panel if journalists themselves could ever be partly responsible for such suspicions? Citing CNN's Anderson Cooper, who admitted spending his earlier summers working for the CIA: "Doesn't this kind of moonlighting put other journalists at risk?"
No response from the panel.
Representing half a million media professionals around the world on behalf of the International Federation of Journalists was Judith Matloff, a Professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and a member of the International News Safety Institute. Professor Matloff implored the international community to uphold UN Security Council Resolution 1738 which prohibits the killing and targeting of media, and protects free speech and freedom of the press globally.
In a followup conversation by telephone on May 25, I asked Prof Matloff for her opinion on how UNSCR 1738 applies to Lebanon's Al Manar TV and the LMG communications network- Lebanese media outlets bombed by Israel during the 2006 war, and officially censored as a "terrorist organization" by the US Congress.
Regarding this unprecedented, landmark free speech/censorship law, Ivy League academic Matloff said she was "unfamiliar with these situations" and refused to comment on Middle East issues. "I am an Africa specialist".
But wasn't free speech protected equally around the world under Res 1738? In the Middle East, as well as in Africa? Being a media expert, could she comment on what a law equating the media with "terrorism" could mean for freedom of the press? Concurrent with Bush's admitted deliberate bombing of Al Jazeera in Afghanistan and Iraq?
"I never heard of that," Matloff said.
With her credentials, shouldn't such Katrina-scale censorship have caught her eye?
Or perhaps she could assess how the mainstream media's advocacy of falsehoods promoted an illegal war in Iraq? "The New York Times has apologized," she said, referring to a full page 'mea culpa ad'. But isn't the NYT repeating the same misleading tactics to promote a next war in Iran?
With this and similar questions, Matloff responded like a true press "pro": avoiding ethical implications, defending her product- the status quo, and referring most answers to "other supervisors" or experts. Her refrain of "I don't know", "don't remember", "can't comment" captured the essence of a White House Press Briefing.
As a trainer of America's next generation of government "privatized propaganda contractors," (tomorrow's 'Mercenary Press') Matloff diverted the subject, passed the buck, and expertly earned her tenure...
On Press Freedom Day I spoke briefly to New York Times correspondent Warren Hoge about the media, Iraq and World Press Freedom Day.
Q: Its World Press Freedom Day and I just wanted to ask if you have any comments about The New York Times and their reporting in the runup to the Iraq War, and if you feel any kind of responsibility?
A: I can't talk about that- we've already said everything about that to be said in the paper, and I really don't want to add to it. I mean, The New York Times- more than most newspapers- has absolutely admitted what we thought was faulty and what was not. There's just nothing I can add to that at all. And I certainly don't want to talk about that on
Press Freedom Day when our thoughts are with Alan Johnston and other journalists that are being killed.
Q: Well my thoughts are also with the Iraqis. There are half a million dead- thanks in part to
your newspaper-
A: Oh come on.
Q: Your newspaper was one of the primary advocates for the war-
A: Oh come on, I can't talk to you-
Q: Your newspaper was primary- yes it was- Judith Miller got a security clearance from Donald Rumsfeld, sir-
A: The New York Times is not responsible for any dead Iraqis. I won't listen to that-
Q: None of the other American journalists but Judith Miller from your paper got a security
clearance from the US Defense Secretary himself. How is this different from working for the government?
A: You are are defiling Press Freedom Day- Shut up! This is about Press Freedom, this is not about defiling the Press. We've just come back from a demonstration for Alan Johnston for journalists being killed and that's what this day is about- Press Freedom.
Perhaps BBC World News Editor Jon Williams best summarized the outcome of shutting up the press: "We must not stand by and allow the intimidation of journalists- wherever it happens. If we do, we will pay a heavy price... There will be no eyes or ears telling us what's going on. We won't have the insight from those able to make sense of it."
But then, that may be just how the Powers That Be really want it.
(c) Trish Schuh


Uh-oh. Things may go bad for Our Modern Day Carrie Nations. Looks like more people are getting space to tell the truth. This is from Roger Howard's "Congo and Darfur: Where Anti-Arab Prejudice and Oil Make the Difference:"

In a remote corner of Africa, millions of civilians have been slaughtered in a conflict fueled by an almost genocidal ferocity that has no end in sight. Victims have been targeted because of their ethnicity and entire ethnic groups destroyed – but the outside world has turned its back, doing little to save people from the wrath of the various government and rebel militias.
You could be forgiven for thinking that this is a depiction of the Sudanese province of Darfur, racked by four years of bitter fighting. But it describes the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has received a fraction of the media attention devoted to Darfur.
The UN estimates that 3 million to 4 million Congolese have been killed, compared with the estimated 200,000 civilian deaths in Darfur. A peace deal agreed in December 2002 has never been adhered to, and atrocities have been particularly well documented in the province of Kivu – carried out by paramilitary organizations with strong governmental links. In the last month alone, thousands of civilians have been killed in heavy fighting between rebel and government forces vying for control of an area north of Goma, and the UN reckons that another 50,000 have been made refugees.

How curious, then, that so much more attention has been focused on Darfur than Congo. There are no pressure groups of any note that draw attention to the Congolese situation. In the media there is barely a word. The politicians are silent. Yet if ever there were a case for the outside world to intervene on humanitarian grounds alone – "liberal interventionism" – then surely this is it.
The key difference between the two situations lies in the racial and ethnic composition of the perceived victims and perpetrators. In Congo, black Africans are killing other black Africans in a way that is difficult for outsiders to identify with. The turmoil there can in that sense be regarded as a narrowly African affair. In Darfur the fighting is portrayed as a war between black Africans, rightly or wrongly regarded as the victims, and "Arabs," widely regarded as the perpetrators of the killings.
In practice these neat racial categories are highly indistinct, but it is through such a prism that the conflict is generally viewed. It is not hard to imagine why some in the west have found this perception so alluring, for there are numerous people who want to portray "the Arabs" in these terms. In the United States and elsewhere those who have spearheaded the case for foreign intervention in Darfur are largely the people who regard the Arabs as the root cause of the Israel-Palestine dispute.
[. . .]

Humanitarian concern among policymakers in Washington is ultimately self-interested. The United States is willing to impose new sanctions on the Sudan government if the latter refuses to accept a United Nations peacekeeping force, but it is no coincidence that Sudan, unlike Congo, has oil – lots of it – and strong links with China, a country the US regards as a strategic rival in the struggle for Africa's natural resources; only last week Amnesty International reported that Beijing has illicitly supplied Khartoum with large quantities of arms.


Sammy Powers, you big War Hawk, grab your axe! Better stop chopping before everyone catches on to what a LIAR you are and how hard you have worked to sell WAR. As an Irish-American, I'd also suggest that Samantha Powers not go home to Ireland. The Irish have enough problems without a professional shit-stirrer in their midst. And since "Powers" doesn't sound like any Catholic name I know, I'll guess that as a little War Hawk, she learned all about oppression by observing the colonizing and enslavement that was done to Irish Catholics. She's a colonoization queen and ready to spread empire whever she can. But she knows she needs to lie to people to do that. Maybe it's time we deported Sammy Powers? I'd really start a petition for that but I don't want Ireland to suffer. Of course, we could force her off on England -- that's where the invaders came from so they should take their little War Hawk back. But maybe even they don't want her. Grab the axe, Sammy Powers! Grab the axe! And don't waste my time getting one of your dumb ass groupies/zombies to e-mail me. Kiss my Irish-American-Catholic ass. That probably burns Sammy the most, that a Catholic's calling her out.

I plan to write about Law and Disorder tomorrow (I just got it in the mail today!) but C.I. does cover some of it in the snapshot. So here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, May 30, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces 2 more deaths, Free Speech Radio News provides a first rate special, and more.

Steve Negus and Demetri Sevastopulo (Financial Times of London) report, "A series of fatalities announced on Tuesday in Iraq saw the US military's death toll rise to its highest monthly level in more than two years." Curiously (or maybe not so), the New York Times isn't interested. The story noting the 10 deaths (covered in yesterday's snapshot) isn't even worthy of a solo story. Instead it gets teamed up with the kidnapping of five people who chose to go to Iraq to make money. Five contractors (one prefers consultant) who are British and not even working for a British corporation so let's not pretend the "They wanted to serve their country!" crap is going to fly. Four were armed security guards. Currently the US army -- composed of service members who make peanuts unlike the high paid contractors -- are searching throughout Baghdad to save the five who came to Iraq hoping to line their pockets with some blood money. So it's all the more insulting that the New York Times thinks the 'perfect' thing to do is to pair the disappearance of 5 with the death of 10 who were ordered into Iraq and saw no chance of getting rich off the illegal war. After a 'shout out' paragraph two, Damien Cave forgets the US soldiers until paragraph nineteen. By contrast, the Washington Post front pages John Ward Anderson's report on how May is "the deadliest month for U.S. troops in 2 1/2 years".


Currently, the
ICCC count for the total number of US service members killed in the illegal war is 3470 and the number killed in May (thus far) is 119. On Monday, Free Speech Radio News used their half-hour broadcast for a special Memorial Day look at the some of the costs of the war in US with reporter Aaron Glantz in the role of reporter and anchor. Glantz spoke with Muriel Dean whose husband was killed last Christmas. James E. Dean wasn't shot dead in Iraq, he was shot dead in Maryland. Having served 18 months in Afghanistan, suffering from PTSD and with an Iraq redployment coming up (January 14, 2007), James E. Dean went to his father's farm and holed up there, alone, with the possible intent to kill himself. Muriel Dean strongly believes that, at some point, her husband would have gotten tired, gone to sleep and, when he woke up, and left the farm. Instead, the police decided the thing to do in a situation where the farm was empty, where no neighbors were close by and where the only person James E. Dean could have hurt was himself, the thing to do was to use tear gas to force him out and then shoot him dead. The report from the review conducted by Maryland's State Attorney office deemed the police behavior "assualtive and militaristic."

Aaron Glantz: Pentagon doctors estimate that 12 percent of the 1.5 million veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Other studies put that number higher at closer to 30 percent. As the war drags on the military is increasingly sending soldiers back to Iraq for second and third tours even if they suffer from the same type of mental illness as Patrick Resta.


Glantz also spoke with Melissa and Patrick Resta who served in Al Anbar Province in Iraq and spoke of Iraqis approaching US service members with ill children but, Resta explains, that they were threatened with court-martial if they used medical supplies on anyone other than US service members. [This point is echoed in Camilo Mejia's
Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia.] When he returned from Iraq at the end of 2004, he was angry, unable to sleep, drinking, avoiding everyone. At Christmas, Melissa Resta asked her husband "if he wanted to split up and he told me he didn't care" which was her clue that there was something seriously wrong.

Patrick Resta has now been diagnosed with PTSD and is receiving treatment and attending college. He states: "I'm definitely not the person I was before. I was always laid back, you know relaxed, always cracking jokes and now I'm anxious and tense and have bouts of anger, have some pretty severe insomnia, have some bad nightmares and I think it's pretty standard for the men and women that have been over there. All of the people that I've talked to, it's pretty much the same -- the same set of symptons and the same problems."


Melissa Resta: There are so many of these things that I never would have thought would be a problem and now I have to think them through. The grocery store's too crowded. We also live in a city with a very high Muslim population and there are a lot of women in traditional Muslim dress and sometimes I notice that that can be unsettling for him to see that just because I think it brings back these feelings. I mean there are a lot of things that you have to take into consideration and at 27 it's not really where I had pictured myself.

Glantz also interviewed Kristy Kruger whose brother, Eric Kruger, was killed in Baghdad by a roadside bomb November 2, 2006. [Kristy Kruger, a singer-songwriter, often performs concerts to benefit her brother's four children. Donations can be sent to: The Memorial Fund for Children of LTC Eric Kruger, 6460 Crystal Mountain Rd., Colorado Springs, CO 80923.]
And Glantz interviewed doctors who treat PTSD including Dr. Col. Vito Imbascini who was stationed in Germany for four months last year where he treated US service members wounded in the war and discussed how body armor meant service members who might have lost a limb in Vietnam and suffered wounds to their chest and abdmonen that led to their deaths are now likely to survive "but be severely disabled for life" allowing "an extremely high number of wounded American soldiers are coming home with their arms or legs amputated" and, during his four months in Germany, he "amputated the genitals of one or two men every day."

Again, that is
the Memorial Day special of Free Speech Radio News. Today the Daily Mail reported on Martin Packer, a British soldier who had self-checked out, and killed himself (Monday) in front of Joanne Hepple (his girlfriend) and her two songs as a result of being "tormented by what he had witnessed in" Iraq. War resisters Darrell Anderson and Joshua Key are among those who have disclosed their own PTSD. From Key's book, The Deserter's Tale (pp. 209-210):

A Canadian psychiatrist told me that you never truly emerge from post-traumatic stress disorder, that you simply learn to live with it.
There are certain things that I avoid these days, such as alcohol and crowds, because I fear they will trigger more of my own blackouts. I know that thousands of American soldiers have abused drugs or committed suicide after returning home from war. It would be easy to follow in the steps of many in my own family and drown my shame and my sorrows in alcohol. Alcohol, however, could lead to the very problem of suicidal depression that have plagued vets for generations.


Joshua Key is part of a growing movement of war resistance within the US military that includes
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.



Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Today, in Iraq, the violence continues as does the breeding of hostilities.
Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) reports that the raids to find the 5 British contractors is even more violent than the search to find the 3 missing US soldiers (and remember, only the corpse of one of the 3 US soldiers is confirmed found) by crashing into one Iraqi police officer's "home about 2 a.m. using an armored vehicle, cuffed and blindfolded those inside, and pointed lasers at their chests. 'They were hitting us, asking, "Where are the kidnapped British?" said the man who asked that his name not be published for fear of retribution by Western forces. 'I told them that we are five brothers in the police force. How could we do that? They said OK, then tell us where are they?" Also today, the US military has confirmed what CNN reported yesterday -- remember the days when reporting was reporting and official government statements were official government states? Rest easy outlets, you can now report what CNN did yesterday: A US helicopter was shot down Monday in Iraq (which led to the death of 2 US soldiers and 6 died while attempting to rush to the scene of the crash). Repeating, the US military has confirmed what CNN reported. Read AP here and wonder why news outlets not only wouldn't report the helicopter was shot down but they also wouldn't even report it by couching it with "CNN is reporting that . . ." In other air news, Turkey, which shares a border with Iraq, has issued a request. Turkish Daily News reports the government of Turkey "formally asked the United States not to repeat any airspace violation, following an incident last week where two US F-16 fighters infringed the Turkish air corridor." And that comes as tensions continue to mount between Turkey and the Kurdish northern Iraq. CBS and AP report, "Turkey has sent large contigents of soldiers, tanks and armored personnel carriers to reinforce its border with Iraq amid a heated debate over whether to stage a cross-border offensive to hit Kurdish rebel bases. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday urged the United States and Iraq to destroy bases of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, in northern Iraq as the Turkish military depoloyed more tanks and soldiers on the border."


Bombings?

Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a parked car Baghdad bombing that claimed 1 life (5 wounded), 2 Baghdad mortar attacks that killed 1 person and left 6 wounded, a Baghdad bombing that killed an Iraqi soldier and three police officers were wounded from a bombing near the Basheer village. Reuters reports a Mhmudiya mortar attack that killed 3 people and left 21 wounded and a Falluja mortar attack that left 5 dead (15 wounded).


Shootings?

Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) notes the Amarah shooting death of "a journalist working with the Aswat Al-Iraq news agency". AFP notes that "three journalists had been killed in the previous three days." Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Ala'a Abdul Razzaq Qasim (interior ministry intelligence) was shot dead in Baghdad along with two of his bodyguards, Mohammed Shakir (ministry of interior affairs) was shot dead in Baghdad, a bodyguard was shot dead in Hawija in an attack on "the head of the judicial committee of Hawija," and 3 police officers wer shot dead in Diyala province. Reuters notes a woman killed in an Mosul attack.


Corpses?

Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 23 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

Today the
US military announced: "Two Multi-National Division-Center Soldiers were killed while on dismounted patrol when a roadside bomb exploded today."
On this week's
Law and Disorder (WBAI on Monday and others throughout the ) featured Anthony Arnove's remarks from the Left Forum panel Iraq: What's At Stake (which also featured A.K. Gupta, Christian Parenti, Gilbert Achcar and Nir Rosen) that was held March 11th.

Anthony Arnove: The fundamental political reality is that the US occupation -- not al Qaeda, not Iran, not Syria -- is the reason for the insurgency in Iraq which is why no amount of 'surges' of additional troops, programs for police training, rhetoric about cutting off supply routes to Iran and Syria, or plans for victory is going to end the resistance to US occupation.Iraq today is an unqualified disaster even from the standpoint of the US ruling class. One can now regularly read on the pages of the Finanical Times and the Wall St. Journal establishment observers who proclaim Iraq the greatest foreign policy mistake in the history of the United States -- greater even than Vietnam.
[. . . ]
The Democrats came into a majority in the House, the Senate and the state governorships last Novemember as a result of a vote against the war in Iraq yet what have they done since taking office?
For all the laughable rhetoric about exporting democracy in Iraq and the Middle East -- which is the opposite of US intentions -- we now see again how little democracy we have at home as well. So far, the boldest measure the Democrats have been able to muster was to pass a non-binding House resolution criticizing the additional 21,500 troops Bush has sent to Iraq -- not the underlying occupation, not the military bases, not the economic occupation, not the presence of a 100,000 private mercenaries operating without any accountablility. The deaths, though, of Iraqis are binding. The deaths of US soldiers are binding. And let's remember that the Democrats, certainly the party's key leadership voted overwhelmingly to support Bush's invasion, that they have repeatedly voted to appropriate more funding for the occupation, and now many leading Democrats are pushing to add more than seventeen billion dollars to Bush's one hundred billion supplemental funding request for the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. Only now that the occupation is widely recognized as a complete disaster do you have Democrats voicing muted criticism of the war but much if it is utterly superficial.
[. . .]
There will be growing pressure on all of us as the 2008 presidentional election cycle continues to pick up to restrict the debate in this country to ever more narrow circles but we cannot afford to fall into that trap. If we become a lobbying wing of the Democratic Party we will become not more relevant as some insist but we will become irrelevant. The anti-war movement must maintain its independence and must continue to mobolize to fight for its own independent demands which I think first and foremost should be for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of troops from Iraq.


Arnove is the author of, most recently,
IRAQ: The Logic of Withdrawal. Last week on Law and Disorder (as Mike noted Friday) co-hosts Dalia Hashad and Michael Ratner discussed Brigadier General Douglas Lute who was the one who finally consented to be Bully Boy's war czar. Hashad noted that "czar" was a title the administration had moved away from and had settled on "war coordinator. Makes it sound like an after school job." Hashad also noted that Lute had told the Financial Times of London, some time ago, that he didn't support the concept of escalation. In August 2005, Peter Spiegel and Demetri Sevastopulo (Financial Times) reported that Lute felt the numbers of US troops on the ground in Iraq needed to be reduced for several reasons including, Lute speaking, "You have to undercut the perception of occupation in Iraq. It's very difficult to do that when you have 150,000-plus, largely western, foreign troops occupying the country." That was Lute in 2005, when US troops on the ground were far less than they are now and before he became the war czar or war coordinator.

Last week,
Andishen Nouaree (Columbia's Free Times), observing that Laura Bush's laughable claim that no one suffers this illegal war more than the Bully Boy who started it, asked, "How much is the president suffering? Last week he quit his job. Not the whole job. He's still gonna give speeches, sign legislation, live in the White House, fly around on Air Force One and park his pickup truck in front of the 'Parking for Presidents Only' sign that Jenna bought him for the driveway in Crawford. Bush quit the 'lead the nation's war effort' part of his job. He announced . . . that he's handing that responbility over to U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute."

Finally, today on Democracy Now!,
Amy Goodman spoke at length with Cindy Sheehan. From the end of the interview:

AMY GOODMAN: Cindy Sheehan, we have fifteen seconds. I have the sense, as you talk, that you're not actually leaving, even as a public face of the movement, but stepping back perhaps for a few months, a few weeks, to regroup. Is that accurate?
CINDY SHEEHAN: Well, what I like to think about is like, we're closing down the factory, we're going to retool, and we're going to open up, and it will be a new and improved version of it. But we are definitely going to come at it from a totally different direction.

And remember independent journalist John Pilger is on a speaking tour with his new book Freedom Next Time and his documentary Breaking the Silence: Truth and Lies in the War on Terror (which looks at DC, Afghanistan and Iraq). June 7th, he will discuss his book with Amy Goodman at The New School, Tishman Auditorium, 66 West 12th Street, beginning at 7:00 pm (doors open at 6:15). Admission is $5 per person and students (with ID) can attend for free. Pilger will sign copies of his book afterwards and Amy Goodman will sign copies of her latest book (written with her brother David Goodman) Static. "For ticket information, contact (212) 229-5488 or
boxoffice@newschool.edu. For media inquiries, contact (212) 209-5407 or ruth@nationbooks.org For more information, click here or e-mail pilgerny@gmail.com."


June 11th, Pilger will be in Los Angeles at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center (244 S. San Pedro St.) and will discuss his book and show his documentary beginning at 7:00 pm (doors open at 6:00 pm). The price of admission to the even is five dollars. "Directions, maps, and parking info at:
http://www.jaccc.org/directions.htm
Presented by The Center for Economic Research and Social Change, and The Nation Institute, with support from the Wallace Global Fund. For ticket information, call or visit the JACCC. Box office: 213-680-3700 (Box Office Hours: Monday - Saturday: Noon - 5 pm)For media inquiries, contact (212) 209-5407 or ruth@nationbooks.org For more information, email pilger.la@gmail.com."


June 13th finds him in San Francisco showing his film and discussing his book at
Yerba Beuna Center for Arts (beginning at 7:00 pm, doors open at 6:00 pm) and the price of admission is $15 general and $5 for students. "Presented by The Center for Economic Research and Social Change, The Nation Institute, and KPFA, with support from the Wallace Global Fund. For ticket information, call 415-978-2787 or order online at http://www.ybca.org/. In person tickets at YBCA Box office located inside the Galleries and Forum Building, 701 Mission Street at Third. (Hours: Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat & Sun: noon - 5 pm; Thu: noon - 8 pm.) For media inquiries, contact (212) 209-5407 or ruth@nationbooks.org For more information, email pilgersf@gmail.com."


From San Francisco, he moves on to Chicago for the 2007 Socialism conference. At 11:30 am Saturday June 16th, he and
Anthony Arnove will participate in a conversation, audience dialogue and book signing (Arnove is the author most recently of IRAQ: The Logic of Withdrawal) and that evening (still June 16th) at 7:30 Pilger will be at Chicago Crowne Plaza O'Hare (5440 North River Road, Rosemont, IL 60018) as part of a panel of international activists. To attend the conference, the fee is $85. For Saturday and Sunday only, the price is $70. To attend only one session, the cost is ten dollars. "Presented by The Center for Economic Research and Social Change, The Nation Institute, with support from the Wallace Global Fund. Co-sponsors: Obrera Socialista, Socialist Worker, International Socialist Review, and Haymarket Books. For ticket information, call 773-583-8665 or e-mail info@socialismconference.org For media inquiries, contact (212) 209-5407 or ruth@nationbooks.org. For more information, email info@socialismconference.org."
The Socialism 2007 conference will take place in Chicago from June 14-17. Along with Pilger and Arnove, others participating will include Dahr Jamail, Laura Flanders, Kelly Dougherty, Joshua Frank, Amy Goodman, Sharon Smith, Dave Zirin, Camilo Mejia, Jeremy Scahill, Jeffrey St. Clair and many others.